## Breaking The Ice

Fuuko: Breaking the Ice

I wedged a pencil behind my right ear and held a half-written paper at eye level. "A naked person whose skin area is about 1.5 m2 and whose skin temperature is 33 degrees Celsius is sitting in a room at 25 degrees Celsius. Find the rate at which the person loses convection if h is about 7 m2/w." I bit my lip and thumped randomly at the calculator. "So… hmm, it's 7.5 w."

"I'm afraid it's not. It's 84 w. You forgot to calculate the change in temperature." a familiar voice rectified.

He almost gave me a coronary. I looked up into the impassive face of Mikagami. "Will you quit doing that, Mi-chan? And you're depriving calculators of their use."

He smirked, taking the seat next to mine. "Temperature conductivity is not a foreign concept to me. If you still remember, I used it to defeat Mokuren in the Dark Arts tournament."

"Oh, yeah. That piece of -"

The smirk on Iceman's face grew wider to my annoyance. "Language, Miss Kirisawa. You are a Tokyo University scholar, expected to be groomed in the use of refined academic language."

"Refined my -"

Mikagami held one palm up. "Back to business, Kirisawa." He edged closer and peered at my paper. I felt a bit uncomfortable. "You're down to the last problem. Anyway, while you try to solve it it, do you want anything?"

My jaw dropped open. "You're going to pay for my coffee?" If I remember right, back in High School, his middle name was stingy.

He raised a brow at me testily.

"Um, a cup of mocha latte would be nice. Are you sure you're Mikagami and not his doppelganger?" I mumbled the last sentence under my breath.

Iceman apparently heard me. "Don't make me change my mind." he said as he raised himself to his full height and headed for the counter.

As I turned back to my module, I found myself preoccupied with disturbing thoughts. Was I seeing a different side of Mikagami? I was definitely curious about the discrepancy at any rate.

"Here. I took the liberty of ordering chocolate cake." He informed me, neatly placing a steaming cup of latte and a piece of chocolate cake in front of me.

I checked out of the twilight zone.

"Why weren't you this gallant in High School?" I asked, clearing the table of my nuisance: the calculator, scratch papers and a red pen.

He took a sip of his coffee. "Because I had to live up to my reputation of being a one-dimensional iceberg."

I snorted, not at all surprised by the sarcasm. I took out 2 separate sheets of paper which was yesterday's assignment and handed him his copy. "Instruction says we are to ask each other these questions simultaneously. I jot down your answers on my paper, and you write down mine. It's Ice Breaker with a twist."

He scanned the paper, frowning. "I'm expected to reveal personal information to you of all people?"

I stuck my tongue out at him. "Hey, relax. It's not like you're talking to a complete stranger. Besides, I have no plans of photocopying this and endorsing it to your fans club."

The corners of his mouth twitched up, something vaguely close to a smile. And I would have given up my delicious coffee to read his mind.

"Shall we get started then?" He read the first question scrawled on his paper. "If you were the incumbent president of the country, what would be the first project you would put into action? A speculative question."

"What do you have against speculation?" I asked suspiciously.

"Nothing against it." He folded his arms across his chest. "In fact, most researches start with mere speculation. Answer the question, Kirisawa."

I thought for a while. "I guess I'd initiate a program catering to the needs of the family. The kind that fills in whatever is inadequate or lost. Perhaps if there were lesser dysfunctional families around, and families operate the way they are supposed to, the members to love, protect and guide one another, there will be lesser cases of crime. And as long as no blood is shed, there are little or no reasons for man to harbor hatred against each other."

He listened attentively, jotting down notes as I spoke.

"Sensible, Kirisawa. But you do realize that no matter how successful your attempt is at burying the hatchet between man and the rest of his species, it will resolve approximately nothing. Man is a cornucopia of intricacies." Mikagami spoke in calm yet frighteningly frosty tone.

I sighed. "Thank you for the letdown, Mikagami, but I was just pointing out that love can never thrive in a place where hearts are blinded by loathing. Maslow characterized it as a level of need, that emotion called love. Without it, no one can survive."

He averted his eyes and replied, "Justice is a prerequisite of love."

Mifuyu. He was thinking of his dead sister again.

I cleared my throat, a physical attempt to dispatch my guilt for being responsible for the digression. With a forced laugh, I said, "Can't imagine how we got to that. Your turn to talk. Hmm, given the chance to go back in time, which particular event would you like to recollect?"

"Christmas, when I was five years old. I would describe it as the happiest moment of my life."

He remained tight-lipped after that.

"And?" If I was going to have to pry, so be it. There's no stopping Fuuko Kirisawa when she is curious.

"Somehow, I was under the impression that flowers were the best gift you gave to someone you valued. I presented Mifuyu a bouquet, and her appreciative smile is something I can still picture to this very day." He continued. And although his voice was completely static, there was something in his eyes that said it all.

"Anyway…" he waved a hand impatiently, as if immediately regretting the disclosure. "Answer me this: What was the tackiest fashion ensemble you ever set your eyes on?"

I grinned. "I would have to settle for skin-tight leopard spotted shorts, an orange t-shirt and green Nikes."

He arched an eyebrow. "You don't mean…"

I laughed out loud. "Yeah. No offense, Domon."

"What did he say when he found out you were leaving?"

"Ugh. It was so pathetic. He cried rivers and asked me to choose between college and him."

"So why didn't you choose him?"

I looked at him like he had lost his mind. "In case you missed it, genius, I'm just not that into him. I mean, Domon's a great guy, but he's friendzoned."

That expression on his face looked close to a leer. "A wise man once said that friendship is the foundation of a good marriage."

I almost spurted out coffee at his face. From my nostrils. "That's sick, Mi-chan."

He held two palms up as if to surrender. "Touche."

I rolled my eyes. "Next question. What makes a good conversationalist?"

"Someone who can think for herself, someone bright, witty and..." He looked like he was studying my face, and I couldn't miss out on the feminine pronoun.

I grinned at the revelation. "Admit it. You love talking to me."

"Are you getting cocky, Kirisawa?" He matched my grin with his signature smirk. Then he relented and waved a hand dismissively. "Let's move on. Tell me your favorite childhood anime characters."

"Such a long list. Aya of Weiz Kreuz, Aoshi Shinomori of Rurouni Kenshin and Hiei Jaganshi of YuYu Hakusho."

"Figures. There is uncanny resemblance between you and your preferences."

"MIKAGAMI! Are you referring to me as boyish?"

"No. For all you know, I might be suggesting that THEY are vaguely effeminate. I meant by being strong-willed and persistent fighters."

"Oh. Hmm, so you WATCH those programs?"

"I was a child once."

I grinned. Common ground. I was under the impression that he preferred shows featured in the Discovery Channel. Stuff like: 'The Astounding Wonders of Potatoes' and 'All You Need to Know About Warts'. Or other lame stuff.

And while we're on jokes, funny, how despite the piling amount of pressure and schoolwork, I'd have time to enjoy a simple assignment with a prospective friend. Maybe Mi-chan isn't so bad after all.